CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officials have offered to come to Gambia’s assistance by helping the country print its currency the dalasi as part of cooperative arrangements among members of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).
One of West Africa’s smallest countries with a population of just 2.4m, Gambia lacks the facilities to carry out a lot of national functions, including printing its legal tender. As a result, the Central Bank of Gambia (CBG) uses security printer De La Rue of London, who mints the dalasi in Sri Lanka.
Yesterday, the CGB governor Buah Saidy, paid a courtesy visit to his Nigerian counterpart Godwin Emefiele in Abuja, where he lamented their plight. Receiving them, Mr Emefiele said that the CBN is willing to help with a partnership to tackle acute currency shortages among other management challenges Gambia is facing.
Mr Saidy informed the CBN governor that relying on its current printer, De La Rue for its currency needs was expensive and unsustainable. He explained that it costs the CBG about £70,000 to lift printed currencies from Sri Lanka to the Gambia.
Mr Emefiele assured his visitors that CBN had an extremely competitive advantage to undertake the currency printing for Gambia, adding that the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company had a lot of idle capacity to satisfy the demands of the CBG. Among other things, he advised the CBG to work with its parliament to create laws that would provide it with the independence needed to function efficiently.
He said: “I note your point on currency management. The Nigerian mint was set up in the early 1960s and we’ve been producing our currency since the early 60s and we have a lot of idle capacity to ensure that instead of you going to Europe or other countries, you will be able to benefit from our ideas.
“Our colleagues will take you to the security printing facility. Our colleagues that came in from Liberia two months ago were fascinated by the kind of facilities we have at our security printing and minting facility and I am sure that you will also enjoy them.
“I am sure they will follow you back to the Gambia to see how they can help you to structure your economic order quantities so we can also be of assistance in printing your currency. I can assure you that we can be extremely competitive if only from the standpoint of logistics and freight from Europe but it’s just going to be a few hours from here to the Gambia and the rest of them.”
Mr Saidy also pointed out that one of the purposes of the visit was to benefit from the CBN’s vast experiences on how it had successfully regulated the financial system and seek assistance in the areas of information technology, modernisation, cyber security, foreign exchange shipping and management, among others. In response, Mr Emefiele attributed the successes to the support which the apex bank had enjoyed from the National Assembly.
Mr Emefiele added: “On the issue of the CBN independence, I thank you for the kind words but I think the point is that we thank our own parliament. Our parliament has been extremely supportive of the CBN.”
He further stated that the CBN was not sparing any effort to address issues of supply management to ensure economic growth. Mr Emefiele added that the Nigerian government was targeting at least 35% reduction in importation through ongoing investments in fertiliser and petrochemical plants.